Give them any excuse, the people in Köln (Cologne) love to party at any time. It’s a wonder but no surprise this is where I find some of the happiest people in the country. As the calendar flips to a new year, the time heralds the annual shenanigans of the Kölner Karneval. For residents and visitors, two of the best-known landmarks in the city are the Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral) and the Hohenzollernbrücke (Hohenzollern Bridge).
Above/featured: Dom und Baum (Cathedral and tree).
Colder weather in late-November marks the beginning of Christmas season with food, drink, lights, and frivolity. The festive markets in the Carnival City of Cologne are equally reflective of cheerful people and good times one expects to find on the river Rhein. Four of the city’s Christmas markets are located at the Cathedral, Old Market in the Old Town, at the New Market, and at Rudolph Square. What makes these four special are their descriptions: “Markt der Herzen” (market of hearts), “Heimat der Heinzel” (home of the elves), “Markt der Engel” (market of angels), and “Nikolausdorf” (St. Nicholas village) respectively. Under the glow of Christmas lights, I saw glimpses of big smiles, warm hearts and bellies, happy children, ladies dressed as angels, and the ubiquitous presence of a jolly rotund bearded man dressed in red.
These markets are in the city centre and easily accessible with KVB public transport. During my visits1, there is no admission charge to enter these markets. On multiple visits over the years, we’ve covered all three on foot in a single evening, requiring frequent stops for food among an unspecified number of Glühwein (mulled wine).
What if I’ve landed in Germany, and I wanted to find less-explored aspects in one of her cities? The word “gems” might be overused, but I’ve turned the word into a handy list of “G-E-M-S”, representing a Green space (Grünanlange), a place to Eat (Essen gehen), a Museum, and something a little out of the ordinary or a Special tip (Sondertipp).
They’re not only recommendations, but I’d like the interested reader to consider places where locals go to relax, eat, and enjoy themselves.
The present post is about the Carnival city of Cologne on the river Rhein.
Often, art occurs whenever and wherever you find it.
Whenever I’m in Cologne, Germany, I stop at the Museum Ludwig for their selection of contemporary art, including their Pablo Picasso collection which is the third largest in the world.
I’ve seen some fine examples and works, and perhaps, they provide the necessary inspiration and ingredient to move forward or onto a different course.
Symmetry, form, line, contrast
After a look at their collection of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein in the basement, I headed back up to the ground floor. Looking up, I realized there was lots of geometry in the floors above. Fortunately, the security guard was “cooperative”, and the composition kept its symmetry with the added bonus of a convergence point.
I think the fellow was curious about what I was photographing …
I hung out in the upper corner of the museum, looking out the window and onto Heinrich-Böll-Platz, and I waited for the right opportunity. After some ten to fifteen minutes, I saw at the square two people, each walking along a different path but heading in the same direction. Each person wore contrasting colours: the woman in bright colours and a dark umbrella, the older gentleman in dark colours and a bright patch on his backpack. At the upper right is the sculpture piece “Ma’alot” (Stufen or steps, 1980-1986) by Tel Aviv’s Dani Karavan.
Some have asked: how do you make these kinds of photographs? Here’s my basic list:
- Awareness : keep your eyes open to surroundings and possible situations.
- Composition : get things “right” in camera as much as possible.
- Minimal post : I don’t do a lot of post-processing, but I’ll make the necessary corrections for rotation, distortion, crop, and “dodge & burn” to adjust highlights and shadows, respectively.
- Experience, endurance : photograph as much as you can to recognize the kinds of shots which arise in a variety of surroundings and settings. Sometimes I have to wait until the right situation comes along.
It’s a simple “ACME” list, because each item is not difficult to undertake and does not require a specific or expensive camera. Go out and make photos with whatever camera you have.
Museum Ludwig and Heinrich-Böll-Platz are located between the Cathedral and the Central train station to the west and the Hohenzollern Bridge and koelnmesse Trade Fair Exhibition Centre to the east. Below Heinrich-Böll-Platz is the home of the Kölner Philharmonie; the square is closed to all foot traffic when a concert is held.
More about Köln …
I made both photos above with the Canon EOS450D (XSi) camera and 50mm prime-lens on 25 July 2013. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-3PL.
Liebesgeschichten in Köln
“Love locks” (Liebesschlösser) are for many a concrete declaration and manifestation of new and continuing love.
Found also in other places around the world, these locks now decorate the south fence of the Hohenzollernbrücke bridge in Köln (Cologne), Germany. Since their appearance here in 2008, the locks have been described by various sources, including the following from Germany and written in English:
- Locks of love tinkling in Cologne – Rhein Online
- Cologne Gets a Lock on Love – Deutsche Welle
- Folklorists baffled over ‘love locks’ in Cologne – The Local
At the end of September 2011, Altweibersommer or Germany’s version of “Indian summer” was in full effect with warm sunny days and many people escaping work and school to spend as much possible time lounging along the river Rhein.
I’ve been to Köln frequently to visit friends, drink Kölsch, eat döner. The conditions were perfect, and curiosity got the better of me – I finally made my way to the Hohenzollernbrücke.
After taking my own time on the bridge, I was pleasantly surprised by the size and shape of locks, and by the various inscriptions.
Most of the love-locks on Cologne’s Hohenzollernbrücke are on the south side of the bridge. Shown in the map below are the west (blue) and east (green) approaches on foot, after alighting from trains at either Cologne Main Train Station (Köln Hauptbahnhof, Köln Hbf) or Cologne Messe/Deutz Station (K-Messe/Deutz), respectively. Regional trains, S-Bahn trains, and local U-Bahn trains pass through both stations on either side of the river Rhein.
I made all of the photos above on 29 September and 1 October 2011. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com.
- Nicole Blaess-Smith found beautiful love locks in Copenhagen and in Helsinki.
- Anita Mac wrote about a different and historical perspective to the locks she found and photographed in Prague.
- Anita also provided a wonderful summary (and a bucket list!) of where else in the world love locks appear.